On the History and Ritual Use of the Jul-leuchter
By Osferth DCG-V
The text which follows below is revised from the original, which I wrote for the Julfest 2000 edition of ORBriefing. Since that time, I have (with the help of friend and fellow researcher Markus Wolff) located a gem of an article that certainly gives us much more information on the mystery of the Jul-leuchter. The article was written by Heinrich W. Schild in the November/ December 2000 issue of Militaria, a German magazine about military history. This article provided me with the facts that I only wish I had when I wrote my original, but it also left many things unanswered…
As ever, I would very much enjoy discussing the Jul-leuchter with anyone who may share an interest. Please email me direct at: Heidentor@Lrbcg.com
Various styles of Jul-leuchtern: l’Elfe (new, from France), Europa (new, from Vinland), SS-Allach (c. 1940 from Germany), ACTE (new, from France)
Many have written us about the Jul-leuchter and its ritual use in our festivals. It is always such a pleasure for me to discuss this item, since it is used so heavily in my Hearth and family…
First, a recap for those who are new to the ORV. Just what is the Jul-leuchter? Such a complex item, but so outwardly simple… The Jul-leuchter is a small earthenware candlestick, about 4" square at the bottom, about 8" tall, and it is shaped kind of like a mountain or a tower, with cutouts of hearts and Hagal-runes on all four sides. There is also a hole at the top for a candle (called the Summit candle), and the inside is hollowed out for a candle underneath.
History of the Jul-leuchter
Historically, was this cultic item known to our ancestors? We cannot say for sure… But no one can deny the fact that it is purely a Heathen design.
So, how did we come to know the Jul-leuchter?
A German researcher, Dr. Herman Felix Wirth, first recognized the importance of the Jul-leuchter in his translation of the Ura-Linda-Chronik in 1933. He provided a picture of it, and described it as "a farmer's candlestick from burned clay in tower form from Halland (Veddinge, district Viske, Sweden): at the four walls the Heart of the Irtha and the Wralda's Å Jul". [Note: The Jul-leuchter he refers to has been in the possession of the Nordiska Museet in Stockholm since 1882, and is pictured below.]
Thereafter, Dr. Wirth met Reichführer-SS Heinrich Himmler and was appointed as President of the SS-Ahnenerbe, or ancestral research unit responsible for studying the Germanic past.
At Dr. Wirth’s recommendation (and based upon his scholarly findings), Himmler decided to incorporate the use of the Jul-leuchter in the yearly celebrations of SS families. Many period publication document this, both in photos and in text, the most notable being Fritz Weitzel’s Die Gestaltung der Feste im Jahres-und Lebenslauf in der SS-Familie.
The Jul-leuchter was given to SS families on the eve of the Winter Solstice, though it played a prominent role in the family throughout the year. The official manufacturer was SS-Porzellan Allach, near München. These examples are very well made in spite of mass-production, and demand quite a lot of money at auction houses today – generally between $500 and $1000. They were styled faithfully after an original that is owned by the Swedish open air museum in Skansen.
Fortunately, with the end of the SS, the use of the Jul-leuchter did not die. Very spiritually enlightened men and women in Germany (and in the rest of Europe) realized the religious importance, and were adamant in explaining that it was not a Nazi relic. They continued to produce this cultic item for Germanic heathens throughout Europe long after the specter of the SS disappeared, as they still do today.
Personal History and Information
I first saw the Jul-leuchter in a German catalog quite a few years ago but didn’t order one because of the shipping difficulties and high cost from Europe. But in 1999, we threw all caution into the wind and decided to get one. As ever, we contacted our good friend Arnaud d’Apremont of ORF. He not only sent us one over, he also wrote a wonderful article for our 2249 Jul-fest ORB (reprints are available for those who do not have this).
Since this time, Heidrun and I have realized the sheer power of this item, and decided to share our positive experiences with everyone we can. But this produced a dilemma for us… How can we get them, and make them widely available without the high costs and shipping difficulties from Europe, or the hefty price-tag of the Allach pieces? There was no solution other than to form a small company and do it ourselves. Therefore, we startedEuropa.
The Jul-leuchter in the Festivals of the Odinic Rite
A brief summary follows, but it by no means is gospel. Each Hearth will use this cultic item as they feel fits their own needs, and further scholarly research is currently being done by the CG and other good friends who share an interest in this item. Of course, we will keep the membership aware of our findings…
We will start by stating that the year is divided into six equal spokes. For simplicity’s sake, we will call the first spoke the Ostara-fest, since this commences the "light half" of the year. Prior to the Blot itself, the Jul-leuchter is set with a candle at the Summit, as well as one underneath. At the beginning of the blot, we light the candle underneath by using a twig, which receives its flame from the stove – symbolic of the old Hearth Fire as the stove holds the family’s cooking fire. At the high point of the Blot, it becomes time to take the flame from the candle underneath and take it to the top candle. This sacred act is symbolic of the re-birth of the Sun, since we are now in the "light half" of the year (meaning that the Sun is commencing her ascent).
For the next two festivals, the Midsummer-fest and the Harvest-fest, only a Summit candle is lit, as we are still in the "light half" of the year.
The Winternights-fest is quite the opposite of the Ostara-fest. The Jul-leuchter is set with the candle underneath, and one on the Summit. As we are entering into the "dark half" of the year, we begin by lighting the Summit candle (from a flame taken from the stove). From this, we transfer the flame to the bottom candle. This symbolizes the death of the Sun – as she is in the decline, moving toward her "grave".
The Jul-fest is quite a special festival, and the use of the Jul-leuchter is a little different than the other festivals… The Winter Solstice is a time when the Sun is at her lowest, seemingly dead. So our late evening Jul-fest rite (held on the 21st December) uses the Jul-leuchter to help "re-awaken" her from her grave. As it is the "dark half" of the year because the hours of daylight are so short - we begin our rite by lighting the candle underneath the Jul-leuchter. This candle is the same candle we used at the past year’s Jul-fest, which sat on the Summit. We then take a small twig, and pass this through the heart or Hagal-rune on the North side of the Jul-leuchter. The purpose of this is to take the flame from the bottom candle, and transfer it to the top candle. This symbolizes the eternal return of the Sun. After this time, all go to bed and in the morning, all awaken and look to see if the Sun has arisen from her grave – if it is so, all say a prayer of greeting to her, and open gifts in her honor, and in the honor of our Gods and Goddesses, who have made it possible.
Finally, we have the Disting-fest. This is another "dark half" festival, so only the candle underneath is lit.
That presents the outwardly simple use of the Jul-leuchter in the ORV Hagal-year, but there are many other uses as the Jul-leuchter is truly the Heart of the Hearth. As such it must be the focal point for all Hearth and family celebrations, including birthdays, weddings, funerals etc. Its power cannot be overemphasized – make it a treasured part of your family, and pass this custom to your children. They will thank you…
Various Jul-leuchtern (Turm-leuchtern) discovered in Northern-Europe. The Jul-leuchter illustrated in the lower right corner is owned by the open air museum in Skansen, Sweden. The Jul-leuchter below is owned by the Nordiska Museet, Stockholm.
Article © 2000, 2001. All rights reserved. This article may NOT be reproduced without the express written permission of the author.
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